Erma Bombeck: At Wit's End

Sponsored by

  • India and John Clarke and The Theda and Tamblin Clark-Smith Family Foundation
  • Martha Moody Jacobs
  • Doug and Sharon Scholz

Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End

by Allison Engel and Margaret Engel
starring Jennifer Joplin as “Erma Bombeck”
directed by Heather N. Powell

EXTENDED! Now April 19 – May 20, 2018
in The Caryl D. Philips Creativity Center

Dayton’s own Erma Bombeck takes center stage in this touching one-woman comedy. Human Race Resident Artist Jennifer Joplin stars as the literary icon whose candid commentary on life as a woman, spouse and mother made her the champion of suburban housewives everywhere and her newspaper columns a mainstay on kitchen refrigerators for over thirty years. Full of personal anecdotes and sprinkled with plenty of Bombeck’s famous one-liners, it’s a charming biography that proves “if you can’t make it better, you can laugh at it.”

Run time: 60 minutes, with no intermission

On sale now.

Hurry - Many performances are already sold out!

Performances April 26 - May 20: All seats $25, general admission.
Erma Bombeck: At Wit’s End is not a part of Loft Season subscription packages.

Sponsored by

  • India and John Clarke and The Theda and Tamblin Clark-Smith Family Foundation
  • Martha Moody Jacobs
  • Doug and Sharon Scholz

Performance Schedule

  • Sun
  • Mon
  • Tue
  • Wed
  • Thu
  • Fri
  • Sat
  • Sun May 20
  • MonMay 21
  • MonMay 22
  • MonMay 23
  • MonMay 24
  • MonMay 25
  • MonMay 26

Special Performance Legend


Preview Performance


Opening Night


Audio Described / Sign Interpreted performance (available with two weeks notice)

Creative Team

Allison Engel • Playwright

Allison Engel has been a reporter for the Des Moines Tribune, San Jose Mercury and Pacific News Service, and was a Knight Journalism Fellow at Stanford University. She and her twin sister, Margaret, wrote the play Red Hot Patriot: The Kick-Ass Wit of Molly Ivins. She also has been a speechwriter and aide for former Iowa governor Tom Vilsack and lieutenant governor Sally Pederson. In Iowa, she was active in the Des Moines Playhouse, serving as president and head of play selection. She recently spent five years as director of communications at the University of Southern California before becoming the associate director of the Los Angeles Institute for the Humanities at the university. She received an MA in screenwriting from USC in 2009. She is married to Scott Kirkpatrick, and they have two children, Miles and Nora.

Margaret Engel • Playwright

Margaret Engel directs the Alicia Patterson Journalism Foundation and was the managing editor of the Newseum. She was a reporter for the Washington Post, Des Moines Register and Lorain Journal and was a Nieman fellow at Harvard. She and Allison wrote Food Finds: America’s Best Local Foods and the People Who Produce Them, and helped turn the book into a show for Food Network, where it ran for seven years. She has served on the board of theatreWashington/Helen Hayes Awards, the Fund for Investigative Journalism and chairs the Robert F. Kennedy Journalism awards board. She and her husband, Bruce Adams, wrote three editions of a travel guide to America’s baseball parks, with the help of their children, Emily and Hugh.

Heather N. Powell • Director

Heather is excited to be bringing a Dayton icon like Erma Bombeck to life! She previously directed Steel Magnolias, Change and A Dickens of a Time with HRTC. Heather is in her ninth season at HRTC as the Prop Master, and has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Theatre as well as a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Management from Ohio Northern University. She would like to thank her supportive family and husband for encouraging her to follow her dream of working in the arts!


Jennifer Joplin*+ • Erma Bombeck

Jennifer Joplin*+ • Erma Bombeck

Jen is honored to share not just the humor but the courage and heart of this Dayton hero. Local audiences may remember Ms. Joplin from the World Premier of 26 Pebbles, as Chelsea in On Golden Pond, Amanda Wingfield in The Glass Menagerie, Brooke in Other Desert Cities, Annette in God of Carnage, also Proof, Angels in America, Band Geeks!, Doubt, Crimes of the Heart or any of the other productions she’s been fortunate enough to be a part of at The Human Race Theatre for over 25 years! Some of her other favorite roles include Aimee in The Humans, Rosemary in Outside Mullingar and Gwen in Rapture, Blister, Burn at Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati as well as Lady Macbeth and Cleopatra at Cincinnati Shakespeare Company. A proud graduate of Wright State University’s professional actor training program, she’s worked nationally as an actor, corporate trainer, voiceover artist and teacher, recently adding two film credits to her resume – Old Man and the Gun and Donnybrook. Founder and lead coaching artist for Spotlight Training, and president of the League of Cincinnati Theatres, she is the wearer of many hats and coined the phrase “responsi-juggling.” Finally, to quote Ms. Bombeck, “It takes a lot of courage to show your dreams to someone else.”

*Member of Actors’ Equity Association, the union of professional actors and stage managers in the United States.
+Resident Artist of The Human Race Theatre Company.